Chapter 10: Ezekiel

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by John Riddle, England









In Ezekiel’s own words, “And He [‘the Lord’ Ezek.1.28] said unto me, ‘Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.’  And the Spirit entered into me when He spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard Him that spake unto me.  And He said unto me, ‘Son of man, I send thee …’” Ezek.2.1-3.

The ministry of Ezekiel began with the first of six visions given to him of “the glory of the Lord” 1.28.  References to the remaining five visions are found in 3.23; 8.4; 9.3; chapters 10,11; and chapter 43.  As F. Cundick1 observes, “the description of the heavenly chariot is enough to convince us (let alone Ezekiel) of a power and authority that has control of all things.  There is no part of the universe outside the range of God’s government.”  The vision describes the “resistless Divine activity, controlling alike the agencies of judgment and of mercy, directed to every corner of the earth, and requiring of all profoundest homage and veneration”2.  This prepared Ezekiel for the coming fall of Jerusalem and assured him that although events seemed to prove otherwise, “the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” Rev.19.6, and the prophet now embarks on his service with this confidence.

1  Cundick, F. “Ezekiel. The Priestly Prophet.” Precious Seed, 2012.
2  Gardiner, F. “Ezekiel” in “Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, Volume V”. Cassell & Co., Ltd.

With the vision of “the glory of the Lord” before him, Ezekiel fell upon his face, Ezek.1.28; 3.23.  When they saw visions, Daniel, Dan.8.17; Saul of Tarsus, Acts 9.4; and John, Rev.1.17, did the same.  Isaiah cried, “Woe is me … for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” Isa.6.5.  The overpowering vision of the Lord’s glory filled them with worship, adoration and Godly fear.  But the “glory of the Lord” was not intended to paralyse His servants, and like Saul of Tarsus, who was told “Rise, and stand upon thy feet” Acts 26.16, Ezekiel is commanded, “Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee” Ezek.2.1.

Ezekiel chapter 1, therefore, concludes with the prophet ‘upon his face’ in worship and adoration at the vision of the “glory of the Lord” v.28, and Ezekiel chapter 2 commences with the prophet ‘on his feet’ in readiness for service, vv.1,2.  This brings us to the commissioning of Ezekiel, and we should note the following:

  • The readiness of the servant, 2.1
  • The power of the servant, 2.2
  • The authority of the servant, 2.3
  • The circumstances of the servant, 2.3,4
  • The message of the servant, 2.4
  • The effect of the servant, 2.5-7
  • The separation of the servant, 2.8
  • The resources of the servant, 2.8-3.3


“And He said unto me, ‘Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.’”  The expression “son of man” (literally ‘child of man’) is common enough throughout the Scriptures, meaning simply ‘man’, but it is never used as an address to a prophet, except to Ezekiel and Daniel.  Daniel is addressed in this way once, Dan.8.17, while the phrase is used some ninety times with reference to Ezekiel, for example, in Ezek.2.1,3,6,8; 3.1,3,4,10,17,25.  While it conveys the tenderness of God, it also emphasises the frailty of the servant and the necessity for humility.  In context, the expression “son of man” stresses “his insignificance compared to the glory he has just seen, but it is in no way depreciatory, for man, in spite of his fall, is and remains the climax of God’s creating”.3 

3 Ellison, H. L. “Ezekiel: The Man and his Message.” Paternoster Press, 1956.

We should note that Paul was given “visions and revelations of the Lord”, but he was also given “a thorn in the flesh”, lest he “should be exalted above measure” 2Cor.12.1,7.  God knows how to keep His people humble!

The words “stand upon thy feet” describe readiness to move in the service of God.  This was the case with Elijah: “As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand” 1Kgs.17.1; and with Gabriel: “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings” Lk.1.19.  Isaiah ‘stood on his feet’ in saying, “Here am I; send me” Isa.6.8; and it is noteworthy that the same passage describes the readiness of the seraphim: “Above it [the throne] stood the seraphims” v.2.  Readiness to serve is described in 2Tim.2.21: “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”

Centuries later another man, Saul of Tarsus, saw the glory of Christ, and was told, “Rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee” Acts 26.16.

It follows that we are not likely to hear His voice (“I will speak unto thee” Ezek.2.1) unless we are willing to be used in His service (“stand upon thy feet” Ezek.2.1).  H.L. Ellison4 observes that “there are times and seasons, when the child of God will be found prostrate before the Lord, but when he is to be God’s ‘fellow-worker’, he is to stand upon his feet.”

4  Ibid.

We read of Paul’s readiness in Rom.1.15: “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also”; and in 2Tim.4.6: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.”


“And the Spirit entered into me when He spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard Him that spake unto me.”  Compare 3.24: “Then the Spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, ‘Go, shut thyself within thine house.’”  There can be no doubt that “‘the spirit’ is here the Spirit of God, and not merely the prophet’s own human vigour and courage; and this is made still more plain in 3.24.”5

5  Gardiner, F., ibid.

D.C. Hinton6 points out that “the Holy Spirit is mentioned more in connection with Ezekiel than with any other person in the Old Testament.  More than that, he was given a revelation of the work of the Spirit that was only for him.”

6  Hinton, D.C. Series in “The Believer’s Magazine.” John Ritchie. Ltd., Kilmarnock, February to October 1994.

The Lord Jesus said, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me …” Acts 1.8.  The fact that Ezekiel says, “The Spirit entered into me when He spake unto me” emphasises that Divine commands are accompanied by Divine power.  God does not call His servants and then leave them to their own resources.  The call of Gideon illustrates the point: “And the Lord looked upon him, and said, ‘Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?’  And he said unto Him, ‘Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel?  Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’  And the Lord said unto him, ‘Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man’” Judg.6.14-16.


“And He said unto me, ‘Son of man, I send thee …’”  Notice the relationship here.  On the one hand we have Ezekiel, addressed as “son of man [adam]”, with all his weakness.  On the other we have the Lord (“I send thee”), with all His Divine strength and power.

This was Ezekiel’s only authority.  He was sent by the Lord.  It will be this conviction that will enable us to persevere in the face of difficulty and discouragement.  The ministry of Jeremiah, with all the opposition that he was to face, began with God-given assurance that he had been Divinely called: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” Jer.1.5.  Paul evidently refers to this in saying, “God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen [‘nations’]” Gal.1.15,16.  Amos made it clear to Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, that his authority was God-given: “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son … and the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, ‘Go, prophesy unto My people Israel’” Amos 7.14,15.  John the Baptist put it like this: “He that sent me … said unto me” Jn.1.33.

A few days before his death, F.S. Arnot wrote the following: “The missionary, conscious of his call, can only ‘go forward’, irrespective of men and women, come life, come death.”  It is not a case of volunteering to serve the Lord, but “pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest” Matt.9.38.

We should notice that in Ezekiel’s case, as in the case of most believers, he was ‘sent’ to his own people: “Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel”.  See also 3.5,6: “Thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of a hard language, but to the house of Israel; not to many people of a strange speech and of a hard language, whose words thou canst not understand.”  More likely than not, he sends us to our own neighbourhood.  In the inimitable words of the late Jack Hunter, “we cannot expect to cross the oceans if we are not prepared to cross our own street in the service of God”.  A sense of conviction is as necessary for the Lord’s work in our own backyard as it is anywhere else.


“Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against Me: they and their fathers have transgressed against Me, even unto this very day.  For they are impudent children and stiffhearted.  I do send thee unto them.”  The words “rebellious nation” are actually ‘rebellious nations’, and F. Gardiner observes: “… the word being the same as that commonly used distinctively for the heathen, so that the children of Israel are here spoken of as ‘rebellious heathen’.  There could be no epithet which would carry home more forcibly to the mind of an Israelite the state of antagonism in which he had placed himself against his God … Yet still, the God from whom they had turned aside was even now sending to them His prophet, and seeking to win them back to love and obedience …”7

7  Gardiner, F., ibid.

They are called “rebellious” five times, vv.3,5,6,7,8.  They had forgotten to Whom they belonged.  They are also described as “impudent and stiffhearted” v.4.  The word “impudent” here means ‘sharp of face’; in 3.7 it is a different word, and means ‘strong of forehead’.  They had a history of rebellion: “they and their fathers have transgressed against Me, even unto this very day”.  They were, in fact, a more difficult people than those of a “strange speech and of a hard language” 3.5!  The Lord continues by saying, “Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee.  But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee …” 3.6,7.  This is certainly true today.  In some overseas countries there is a far greater response to the gospel than in the United Kingdom!

We also serve in adverse circumstances: amongst men and women with a history of rebellion against God.  In the ‘Parable of the Pounds’ Lk.19.12-27, the ten servants are told, “Occupy [‘trade’] till I come” in a society which said of their master, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”


“And thou shalt say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord God [Adonahy Jehovah].’”  We should notice that the Lord Jesus never said, ‘Thus saith the Lord’: He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you”, emphasising that He is the Lord!

We have no authority to communicate anything other than the Word of God.  Our mandate is clear: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” Mk.16.15.  In Paul’s words, we are to “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season …” 2Tim.4.2.

The assembly at Thessalonica furnishes us with an excellent example: “From you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing” 1Thess.1.8.  This statement can be understood in various ways, all of which are mutually complementary:

It is the word of the Lord as to its origin.

It is His word, hence the expressions “the gospel of God” and “the gospel of Christ”.  It is not our property, and therefore we must not tamper with it.  Jeremiah said, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart” Jer.15.16.

It is the word of the Lord as to its subject.

Hence Paul wrote, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” 2Cor.4.5.  Hence Peter also spoke of “preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all:)” Acts 10.36.

It is the word of the Lord as to its authority.

This applies to the preachers.  They have a duty to proclaim “all the counsel of God” Acts 20.27, for example, Matt.28.19,20: “Go ye therefore, and teach [‘make disciples of’] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”.  This also applies to the hearers.  They have a responsibility to obey.

Very clearly, we have a duty to emulate the Thessalonians.  They not only preached “the word of the Lord”, but they preached nothing else but “the word of the Lord”.


“And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them” v.5.  As D.C. Hinton8 observes, “Nothing is harder for the servant than not to see result for his labours.  Yet this did not deter Ezekiel.  How do we compare with him?  Do we persevere in gospel testimony even though there is no visible result?”

8  Hinton, D.C., ibid.

The words, “yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them” must be emphasised; see also Ezek.33.33.  Ezekiel was not to concern himself with results.  In fact, he is promised nothing!  Only God can ‘give the increase’.  Our business is to “preach the word”.  We are to do so “in season” and “out of season” 2Tim.4.2, and this seems strikingly similar to “whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear”.

We should add that, irrespective of results, the gospel preacher and his ministry should be “unto God a sweet savour of Christ”.  Here is the complete passage: “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life” 2Cor.2.15,16.

It is worth remembering that “every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour” 1Cor.3.8.  Not ‘according to the blessing seen on his labour’, but “according to his … labour”.  What may appear to us as nil results do not necessarily mean nil reward!  Not that we work for reward: the “love of Christ” constrains us in our work for Him, 2Cor.5.14.

But Ezekiel could expect more than plain disinterest.  He could expect active opposition: “And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.  And thou shalt speak My words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious” vv.6,7.  He could expect scathing, scratching and stinging words!  Compare Ps.57.4: “My soul is among lions; and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.”

The emphasis is not now so much on their rebellion against God alone, but on their hostility to God’s servant, hence Ezekiel is told to “be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks”.  Compare Josh.1.9: “Have not I commanded thee?  Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”  Ezekiel’s mandate is clear: “be not afraid of their words” v.6; “thou shalt speak My words” v.7.

It has to be said that some people have such a ‘nice’ way of rejecting God’s word: “Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, ‘Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord.’  And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as My people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.  And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not” Ezek.33.30-32.


“But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house …”  It is striking that Israel is called “that rebellious house”, which is “literally, ‘a house of rebellion’”9 according to Gardiner, who continues: “This phrase, used in Ezekiel about eleven times, seems to be more than a simple epithet; it is a significant substitution for the name in which they gloried.  Instead of ‘house of Israel, the prince of God’, they had come to be the ‘house of rebellion’”.   Ezekiel was to be distinct in his obedience to the Lord.  In New Testament language, he was not to be “conformed to this world” Rom.12.2.  He was not to compromise, and neither should we, even though “they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” 1Pet.4.4.

9   Gardiner, F., ibid.

Paul deals with this in 2Cor.6.14-16: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  And what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial?  Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?  For ye are the temple of the living God … ‘Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord …’” It has been pointed out (by the late J. Boyd Nicholson) that these oft-quoted verses do not advocate no contact with evil, for that would be impossible, but no contract with evil.


We should notice that Ezek.2.8-3.3 lie at the centre of Ezekiel’s commission.  The prophet’s commission begins and ends with reference to the power of the Holy Spirit: “the Spirit entered into me when He spake unto me … the Spirit lifted me up, and took me away” 2.2; 3.14.  The commands “eat that I give thee … eat this roll … fill thy bowels with this roll” 2.8; 3.1,3, lie between almost parallel passages in 2.3-8 and 3.4-14.  The servant of God must appropriate God’s Word.  We should notice that there is no reference here to the inner bitterness experienced by the apostle John in Rev.10.9,10.

“‘Open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.’  And when I looked, behold, a hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; and He spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.  Moreover He said unto me, ‘Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.’  So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that roll.  And He said unto me, ‘Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee.’  Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.”

Jeremiah did the same: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts” Jer.15.16.  See also Rev.10.2,8-11: John took “the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up … And he said unto me, ‘Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.’”  He needed the contents of “the little book” in order to do this.

As H.L. Ellison10 points out, this “strikingly illustrates the union of the Divine and human in the prophetic message.  The message is clearly Divine, from God, for the roll is already written, and that ‘within and without’, and there is, therefore, no room for any additions by the prophet himself.  But the prophet does not merely take it with him to Tel-Abib and read it to the exiles.  He has to eat it, to assimilate it, to make it a living part of himself; this is the human part of the message.”

10  Ellison, H.L., ibid.

Ezekiel was to appropriate God’s word.  Although containing “lamentations, and mourning, and woe”, he found it “as honey for sweetness” 3.3.  In view of the message which follows this seems rather strange!  Perhaps this refers to the entire prophecy, which certainly ends on the sweetest of notes!  We should note, however, that the “lamentations, and mourning, and woe” could account for his “bitterness” and “heat of … spirit” when he was taken to Tel-Abib, 3.14.

How much do we make the Word of God part of us? 
In the words of David Newell, “The Bible is not a ‘dry-as-dust’ textbook, but a hungry man’s meal!”